If you follow the daily news cycle, it is predominantly one of death, destruction and suffering, both in the West and around the world: economic crisis, Libya, more economic crisis, Syria, the fiscal cliff and war with Iran. But, we should not despair, because there is a light at the end of the tunnel! The world officially ends this Friday, so enjoy this satirical/cynical view of the top 10 reasons why it should end:
When innocent children die, it is a failure of civilization. Permitting it to happen in the first place is the fault of many factors: the exuberant number of guns, a lot of corruption and society's general acceptance of this status quo – or what we might call the political culture of guns in the United States. Not to mention the scores of children who die from drone strikes elsewhere in the world, as fellow PM writer Christian Rice tells us.
2. Honor killings in Pakistan:
This year, there have been at least 943 documented cases of girls being killed in Pakistan in the so-called honor killings, which happen to preserve a family’s honor, when the unfortunate female is caught blinking, breathing, thinking, or looking at a boy. Not to speak of the unreported cases, and it works to at least three girls dying every day for absolutely no reason. That's as barbaric as it gets and speaks very ill of the society that allows it.
3. Financial collapse:
Of all the Wall Street tycoons and their government colluders that nearly imploded the global economy, only Bernie Madoff is in jail for the next 150 years, as punishment for the Ponzi scheme of mind-blowing proportions worth billions he managed. However, the entire cast, starting with Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, the CEO of every major investment bank, and ending with George W Bush and his entire troop of economic advisers, should probably be behind bars right now. Unfortunately, money talks and often, walks.
4. The economy:
Average Joe Jobless is struggling to survive and feed his family, but we care more about human rights in Libya, instead. Incidentally, human rights in Libya are still mostly something everyone's heard about, but nobody's seen. It's like the Loch Ness monster.
5. War on Drugs:
The global drug industry is worth hundreds of billions a year, and major sources of basic materials are South America and Afghanistan, among others. Given that the size of this industry is bigger than the GDP of most countries, it is natural that those who profit would rather keep it going, and pretend to do something about it. The UN says that in 2003, the illicit drug market was worth $320 billion worldwide – this is curious, as there is more recent estimate in the 2012 report; adjust for inflation, and I might put the number roughly at a half trillion. But, add on the social costs of dealing with drugs, and you begin to realize what kind of a business this really is. In other words, you might just wish the Mayan calendar ended sooner.
6. Global poverty:
This is a completely fixable problem, if special interests weren't in the way – like the generous agricultural subsidies the U.S. and EU hand out to make any other producer in the developing world uncompetitive. Decades of failed foreign aid programming have not solved the problem – entirely by design.
For the Bible-loving crowd out there, and for those of us not quite so enthusiastic about it, Ecclesiastes 1:9 still can't ring more true: there is nothing new under the sun. Every political revolution has done more harm than good: Mao killed millions, the USSR was probably more repressive than the Russian Empire (and also killed millions), and it took France five republics to get it somewhat right; the fixation with the Constitution in the United States might be a sign things didn't turn out like we wanted to, either. Finally, The Arab Spring is headed down the same road of failure – just ask Mohammad Morsi.
8. Environmental degradation:
From logging the rainforests, to poaching endangered animals, overfishing, poisoning the oceans and vast mining operations, it's easy to make the case that human impact on earth is, on the aggregate, more negative than positive. The rate of extinction is faster than any point in known history, and that speaks even worse about our management of this planet.
9. Historical destruction:
From Islamist extremists destroying ancient tombs in Timbuktu, to the Taliban blowing up the Buddha statues in Afghanistan in 2001, to the outrageous calls of destroying the Egyptian pyramids. Admittedly, the Spanish were the first to suffer from this problem when they wiped out 98% of South American civilizations. Let's not focus on Islam as the only bad guy, though; when the Americans invaded Iraq, among the first things to go was the Iraqi National Museum and its thousands of priceless artifacts. This would be the shortcut to losing all faith in humanity.
From launching two world wars, toying with nuclear annihilation, to fermenting revolutions around the world *coughCIAcough*, to underestimate conflicts in which millions die even today (Darfur, Congo, Somalia. etc). No other species does this to itself on the scale that we do. The UN was supposed to fix this problem after 1945, but it instead became prisoner to national interests – an issue persisting until today, as Syrians continue to die and we twiddle our thumbs in the meanwhile.
So, there you have it, our civilization in a nutshell. We're supposed to go out with a bang: either a massive solar flare, or a collision with a planet. Personally, I prefer the latter – it'll be 3D in a front row seat. Either way, humanity is fired (no pun intended).
Here's hoping the next sentient species that occupies the neighborhood does a better job of itself.
If you have a top ten, please share!